7 Power Words That MUST Be on Your Resume

power wordsAnother resume from another early careerist. Another rejection.

Not necessarily because of typos on the resume or formatting issues, a lack of internships or other forms of relevant experience. And certainly not because of a low GPA or a diploma from a not-so-prestigious school.

Why, then?

Because today, employers are looking for certain characteristics above all else; aspects of your work life that make you stand out above all your competitors. And trust me when I say that those traits have nothing to do with being “detail-oriented”, a “hard worker” or a “team player” – or any other cliché now included on almost every resume.

To get noticed by a recruiter today, applicants must show – in just one or two pages:

  • Potential
  • Culture fit
  • Impact

The best way to do that? Include these seven power words, phrases (and, yes, even symbols and numbers) while showing real-world impact:


Employers now are doing more with less: less investment, less management and fewer employees. To be considered a strong candidate, you must show that you work well with the existing team while creating solutions with the resources available.

Be sure to include: An example where you brought a team together, or where you and your team worked together to exceed expectations.


A big part of collaboration is knowing when it is time to step up and lead. Why? Because recruiters recognize many other admirable (and hireable) traits in leaders: effective listening, decision-making, confidence, ability to motivate others toward a common goal, etc.

Be sure to include: A time when your leadership made a significant impact; show where the problem started and the end result as driven by your efforts.

Written and Oral Communication

Communication skills remain the Number 1 in-demand skill by employers – and quite often, the Number 1 source of disappointment. The applicant who demonstrates effective (and confident) writing, effective meeting management and confident public speaking will rise above the competition.

Be sure to include: An editor! Your chance to prove your communication skills are well above average disappears about two seconds after a recruiter sees a typo in your cover letter, resume or LinkedIn profile.

Problem Solver

From your first job to your first corner office with a view, the proven capacity to take on a challenge, assess the alternatives and create a solution is in high-demand by employers. In today’s job market, show you welcome this challenge… and you’re on your way to an interview.

Be sure to include: A challenge you faced, the solution incorporated and the impact of your problem-solving ability.


In many aspects of our professional lives, we simply can’t rely on our education or experience to help us through a tough situation; we need to quickly learn what we don’t know. The ability to self-learn – through Google, forums, helpdesks, Q & A sites, MOOCs, etc. – is a huge asset to a prospective employer.

Be sure to include: In your “Summary of Skills” demonstrate your willingness to self-learn in order to problem solve and collaborate more effectively. In the “Knowledge and Achievements” section of your resume, list the relevant courses, credentials and informal learning you’ve taken on outside higher education and mandatory training.

Numbers, ‘%’ and ‘$’

Throughout this post, we’ve talked about showing impact and the end results of your actions and leadership. There is simply no better way to do that than to quantify using percentages and dollar signs. This is what employers understand; this is how they – in less than a second – assess your contributions.

Be sure to include: Concise statements that replace clichés like “proven sales professional” with quantified statements like “Increased sales by $300,000 in my region” and “Exceeded quota by 152% over 5 years.”

Every Acronym and Keyword Relevant to Your Industry

Especially in a larger company: before your resume is ever seen by a recruiter, you must get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – a program used by recruiters to filter out resumes that don’t meet minimum qualifications. The primary tool used: keyword and acronym searches. If your resume lacks the specified keywords and acronyms, the assumption is that you don’t yet have a clear grasp of the job or industry – and your resume will not pass the ATS test.

Be sure to include: In full sentences, insert the relevant keywords and acronyms (but avoid the buzzwords!) from the job description and from within your industry – including the software used and the regulations the company must abide by.

Avoid resume rejection. Don’t include the same old clichés, passive words like “assisted” and empty words like “dynamic” and “successfully”.

Instead, show off your potential. Prove you’re a good fit. Demonstrate your impact. All it takes, is to use these power words on the next version of your resume.






Mark BabbittAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” , HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts”. Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!



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